Steep Rock Preserve
The 998-acre Steep Rock Preserve offers hiking trails which follow the river banks and provide access into the hillsides above. Click Explore button below to learn more.
Points of Interest
The 998-acre Steep Rock preserve offers hiking trails which follow the river banks and provide access into the hillsides above.
1. RailRoad Tunnel
The railroad tunnel was constructed from 1871 to 1872 as part of the Shepaug Valley Railroad. A crew of coal miners from Pennsylvania built the 235-foot curved tunnel by hand using picks, dynamite and nitroglycerin to blast through Steep Rock Ridge. It took them only nine months to complete, a remarkably quick project in those days. The railroad ceased operation in 1948. Today, hikers enjoy the cool, damp air within the darkness of these chiseled bedrock walls as a refreshing respite on a warm summer day.
From the main parking lot (next to the horse riding ring), take the yellow circle trail along Tunnel Road to the blue square trail to the Railroad Tunnel.
The first New Yorker to buy property and build a grand summer house in Washington was Edward Van Ingen, a wool importer. Around 1892, Van Ingen asked Ehrick Rossiter, the renowned architect, to design a hotel on a hillside overlooking the Shepaug River as a memorial to his oldest daughter who died of Scarlet Fever. Completed in 1893, Holiday House was conceived as a vacation retreat for working class women affiliated with Saint Bartholomew’s Church in New York City.
From the main parking lot (next to the horse riding ring), take the blue circle trail to what remains of the Holiday House.
3. Steep RockSummit
The Steep Rock summit, at an elevation of 776 feet, provides a breathtaking view overlooking the Clamshell section of the Shepaug River Valley. Gifted to the Board of Trustees in 1925 by Steep Rock’s founder, Ehrick Rossiter, these 100-acres including the summit are the core of the Preserve and the first land owned by Steep Rock Association. Four years later, the Trustees purchased the Clamshell to preserve the view from the summit. This view contains the same sense of grandeur it did a century ago, and is well worth the hike to the top.
Park at the parking lot at the end of River Road and follow the green circle trail (aka old railroad bed) to the white diamond trail. Then take yellow circle trail to the Steep Rock Summit.
FAQS & Rules
Please help us protect the natural beauty and integrity of the preserve by not removing or destroying plants and wildlife. Click below to see how you can best help us protect the environment.
- Do not remove or destroy plants and wildlife.
- Open sunrise to sunset, daily.
- Park cars in designated areas.
- All motorized vehicles are prohibited beyond parking areas.
- No hunting.
- No alcoholic beverages.
- No loud noise or music.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
- Fires are not permitted.
- No camping.
- Horseback riding is permitted according to posted signs.
- Do not harm trees by chopping, carving or driving nails.
- Do not litter: please carry out what you carry in.
- Cross-Country Skiers: Please set tracks on one side of the trail only.
- Hikers, Snowshoers and dogs please respect ski tracks by keeping to the other side of the trail.
- Stay on the designated trail and please obey seasonal postings.
- Do not speed. Speed limit is 15 mph.
- Dismount when approaching horses.
- Always yield to people on foot.
- No more than four riders in a group.
Directions to Preserve
2 Tunnel Road,
Washington Depot, CT 06794
Sunrise to Sunset
Monday – Sunday
Phone: (860) 868-9131